The Laws Relating to Scotch Whiskey

Technically, by law, whiskey can only be called “Scotch” if it is distilled in Scotland according to a specific set of rules. However, this doesn’t mean that single malt whiskey can’t be made anywhere else, nor that it can’t “compete” against Scottish Scotch in international tasting tastes. Indeed, to the consternation of Scots, in 2014 a leading whiskey critic ranked a Japanese single malt as No. 1. The Washington Post reported that Jim Murray awarded “World Whiskey of the Year” to the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013, giving it a score of 97.5 out of 100. According to the Post, Murray “described it as a drink of ‘near incredible genius’ with a taste ‘thick, dry, as rounded as a snooker ball.’”

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Yamazaki, the maker of the winning whiskey, is Japan’s oldest distillery, founded in 1923 and now owned by Suntory, the world’s third-largest distiller that also bought Jim Beam. Making matters worse, the Post cites Ron Taylor, a Scottish spirit judge who claims to be a “nonpartisan” drinker, as saying that it’s no surprise a Japanese whiskey won. Comparing the whiskeys of the two countries to cars, he says Japanese single malts are like a Lexus: “beautifully crafted, no vibration, smooth, consistent and always pleasant.” Think of Scottish whiskeys, on the other hand, like Maseratis: “They’ll knock you around and slap you around the face a little bit.”

So if these Japanese malts keep winning, why can’t they be called “scotches”?

As the New York Times reports:

“Single malt is simply whisky made from only water and malted barley at a single distillery. In Scotland, single malts are distinguished from blended Scotch, the province of familiar names like Johnnie Walker, Dewar’s and Chivas Regal, which are a blend of one or more single malts with whiskies distilled from other grains. Another category, blended malt Scotch, which used to be called vatted malts, is a blend of two or more single malts.”

Whereas other countries have traditional whiskies, “distillers with integrity will stick to the traditional definition, which includes aging the whisky in oak barrels for at least three years.”

This definition is not only traditional, it is enshrined by law. Laws regulating scotch whisky have been on the books in the U.K. since 1909 and recognized in the European Union since 1989. The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 expanded the scope of previous legislation from not only governing the way in which Scotch Whisky must be produced, but how Scotch Whiskies must be labelled, packaged and advertised, as well as requiring Single Malt Scotch Whisky to be wholly matured and bottled in Scotland.

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Furthermore, the law goes the other way as well, providing that “The only type of whisky which may be produced in Scotland is Scotch Whisky.” (There are a number of other complex requirements; you can read them here.)

Note that “whiskey” is actually “whisky” in Scotland. According to the website “Whisky for Everyone,” the difference in the spelling comes from differences in the Scottish and Irish Gaelic forms:

“The Scots spell it whisky and the Irish spell it whiskey, with an extra ‘e’. This difference in the spelling comes from the translations of the word from the Scottish and Irish Gaelic forms. Whiskey with the extra ‘e’ is also used when referring to American whiskies. This ‘e’ was taken to the United States by the Irish immigrants in the 1700s and has been used ever since.”

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This website also points out other differences between whiskeys make in Scotland and elsewhere, including the size and shape of distilleries, the use of peat in Scotland to dry the malted barley, the use of barley itself and the “terroir” itself in which the barley grows. (“Terroir” is the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop’s qualities, and that lend it its character, from type of soil to water conditions, etc. Even water alone can affect taste, which is why New York claims its bagels are different from all other bagels.)

If you read a lot of detective books, you will no doubt be familiar with one of the most famous of Scotch whiskys, Laphroaig (pronounced ‘La-froyg’, from a Gaelic word meaning “the beautiful hollow by the broad bay.”) Laphroaig is made on the remote island of Islay in the Western Isles of Scotland, where the distinctive peat is said to give Laphroaig its rich flavor.

This single malt is a favorite of Peter Robinson’s Yorkshire Inspector Alan Banks, Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh detective John Rebus, and even Barry Eisler’s free-lance hit-man John Rain. Other whiskeys also soak the pages of fiction, from Loch Lomond, the Scotch whisky consumed by Captain Haddock in Hergé’s famous comic book series The Adventures of Tintin, to the many brands of scotch (mostly American) consumed by James Bond, to even a fictional scotch you will see in the movie “Pulp Fiction,” in which the character played by John Travolta drinks a creation by the director, McCleary Blended Scotch Whisky.

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September 3, 1901 – Alabama Constitutional Convention Adopts Its Constitution

On this day in history, Alabama adopted its current constitution, set to come into effect on November 28 of 1901. It is the longest still-operative constitution anywhere in the world. With more than 800 amendments, it is 12 times longer than the average state constitution, and 40 times longer than the U.S. Constitution.

It is also notable for its provisions allowing for racial discrimination, some of which have still not been eliminated, although many of them have been made moot by amendments to the federal constitution, passage of federal laws, or United States Supreme Court decisions.

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At the 1901 Constitutional Convention, the President of the Constitutional Convention, John B. Knox, a Calhoun County attorney, stated in his inaugural address that the intention of the convention was “to establish white supremacy in this State,” “within the limits imposed by the Federal Constitution.” This was an undoubtedly important consideration since the 1900 population included 1,001,152 whites and 827,307 African-Americans.

John B. Knox

John B. Knox

Knox maintained that the people of Alabama had confronted no more important issue than disfranchisement since the 1860 secession vote:

So long as the Negro remains in significant minority, and votes the Republican ticket, our friends in the North tolerate him. . . . But if we would have white supremacy we must establish it by law — not by force or fraud.”

As Wayne Flynt, Distinguished Professor of History, Auburn University wrote, Knox justified discrimination not on “race” per se, but on the Negro’s inferior intellectual and moral condition:

[There was] in the white man an inherited capacity for government, which is wholly wanting in the Negro. Before the art of reading and writing was known, the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxon had established an orderly system of government . . . the Negro on the other hand, is descended from a race lowest in intelligence and moral perceptions of all the races of men.” (See “Alabama’s Shame: Historical Origins of the 1901 Constitution” by Wayne Flynt, online here.)

Thus, Knox successfully guided the convention to enact constitutional provisions requiring voters to pass literacy tests in order to register, establishing a poll tax, outlawing interracial marriage, and requiring public education to be racially segregated.

In 1956, subsequent to the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education (347 U.S. 483, 1954), in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional, the Alabama legislature passed a constitutional amendment supporting the formation of private, tuition-based schools to evade desegregation.

Members of the Alabama National Guard mark time outside an armory in Birmingham, Ala. as they prepare to go on duty at three schools which have been ordered integrated, Sept. 10, 1963. Gov. George Wallace, who barred black students from the schools, called the guard to duty. (AP Photo)

Members of the Alabama National Guard mark time outside an armory in Birmingham, Ala. as they prepare to go on duty at three schools which have been ordered integrated, Sept. 10, 1963. Gov. George Wallace, who barred black students from the schools, called the guard to duty. (AP Photo)

Today, Alabama’s schools remain highly segregated to this day. As “Atlantic Magazine” reported in a story about Tuscaloosa, Alabama:

Schools in the South, once the most segregated in the country, had by the 1970s become the most integrated, typically as a result of federal court orders. But since 2000, judges have released hundreds of school districts, from Mississippi to Virginia, from court-enforced integration, and many of these districts have followed the same path as Tuscaloosa’s — back toward segregation. Black children across the South now attend majority-black schools at levels not seen in four decades. Nationally, the achievement gap between black and white students, which greatly narrowed during the era in which schools grew more integrated, widened as they became less so.”

The author added:

… the overwhelming body of research shows that once black children were given access to advanced courses, well-trained teachers, and all the other resources that tend to follow white, middle-income children, they began to catch up.”

Then there is the issue of interracial marriage.

The state constitution outlawed interracial marriage (Section 102). This provision was rendered inoperative by Loving v. Virginia (388 U.S. 1, 1967), but was not removed until November, 2000 by Amendment 667.

Mildred and Richard Loving in 1967

Mildred and Richard Loving in 1967

As originally enacted, Section 102 held:

The legislature shall never pass any law to authorise or legalise any marriage between any white person and a Negro or descendant of a Negro.”

As recently as 1998, Alabama House leaders successfully killed attempts to remove Section 102. By the time of the 2000 ballot referendum, interracial marriage had been legal in every state for more than three decades. After the 2000 vote of 59% supporting removing the language, versus 41% opposed, Alabama became the last state officially legalizing interracial marriage.

Interestingly, a poll before the referendum found that about 63 percent of those who responded favored lifting the ban on interracial marriage while 26 percent were opposed. Ten percent said they were not sure or had no reply. Apparently their true sentiments came out in the privacy of the ballot box.

August 4, 1790 – Beginning of The U.S. Coast Guard

On this day in history, President George Washington signed the Tariff Act authorizing the construction of 10 vessels, or “cutters” to enforce federal tariff and trade laws and to prevent smuggling. This service was originally proposed by Alexander Hamilton as part of The Federalist Papers. In Federalist No. 12, Hamilton wrote:

A few armed vessels, judiciously stationed at the entrances of our ports, might at a small expense be made useful sentinels of the laws.”

The service expanded in size as the nation grew, serving in almost every war since the Constitution became the law of the land in 1789. It gained other responsibilities over the years as well, including protection of the country’s strategic natural resources pursuant to the Timber Act of 1822, cruising coastlines for those in distress. In 1848, Congress passed an appropriation for $10,000 to allow for “the better preservation of life and property from shipwrecks.” With the purchase of Alaska in 1867, patrols were assigned to help curtail the illegal seal trade. After the Titanic sank in 1912, the service began conducting international ice patrols.

In 1915, an act of Congress merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the U. S. Life-Saving Service, creating the U.S. Coast Guard. Additional agencies were later merged into the Coast Guard, including those administering lighthouses, merchant marine licensing, and more.

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In 1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the Coast Guard transferred from the Department of Treasury to the newly created Department of Transportation. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Coast Guard was again transferred by President George W. Bush, this time to the newly established Department of Homeland Security.

As of 2012, the Coast Guard had over 43,000 active duty members, over 8,000 reservists, over 8,800 civilian employees, and over 30,000 volunteer Auxiliarists. Of the workforce, 85.7% are men.

Alexander Hamilton is honored by the service as “The Father of the Coast Guard.” To this date, five ships named after Alexander Hamilton have served in the US Coast Guard.

National security cutter Hamilton (WMSL 753) is seen on builder's sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico in July 2014.

National security cutter Hamilton (WMSL 753) is seen on builder’s sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico in July 2014.

Congressional Research Service Reports for Legal Research

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress provides research reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics.

As stated on their website:

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS has been a valued and respected resource on Capitol Hill for more than a century.

CRS is well-known for analysis that is authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan. Its highest priority is to ensure that Congress has 24/7 access to the nation’s best thinking.”

CRS reports are excellent sources for anyone conducting legal research. They are extremely well-research and many are updated regularly. There is no direct access to the reports for the public, however.

Nonetheless, a large number of them are freely available on the Internet but not all in the same places and not always easy to locate.

Here is a list of some free internet sources:

CRSReports.com is a free web-based repository of Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports.

There is a search engine but no browsing. You can, however, search by date.

Stanford University has a repository of CRS reports here. The archive goes back to 2008, and allows you to browse by subject or do a word search.

The University of North Texas Digital Library CRS Collection allows for browsing by subject or word searching.

The University of Maryland Thurgood Marshall Law Library CRS Collection specializes in reports in Homeland Security/Terrorism and Health Law & Policy.

The Homeland Security Digital Library posts a number of CRS reports, available both as abstracts or complete PDFs and keeps very current.

The U.S. Department of State has a repository of CRS Reports, here.

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) hosts a site for CRS Reports, here. It is browsable by topic or searchable.

Full Text Reports describes its database as “A top-tier research professional’s hand-picked selection of documents from academe, corporations, government agencies (including the Congressional Research Service), interest groups, NGOs, professional societies, research institutes, think tanks, trade associations, and more. Obviously, then, it has research reports from other places besides the CRS, and you can see them listed in a sidebar. (It has not updated its reports since mid-2015 but is still a valuable resource.)

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This is just a partial list. Be aware that you may have to check multiple sites for the subject or report you are seeking.

July 28, 1932 – General Douglas MacArthur Brings Out the Tanks in D.C. Against U.S. Army Veterans

In 1924, Congress awarded WWI veterans a bonus to compensate for lost wages by serving overseas, in the form of government bonds that would collect interest over two decades, and to be paid out no earlier than 1945.  But in 1932, as the Great Depression deepened and frustrations mounted, jobless veterans started pressing for early payment of the bonuses.  

An unemployed veteran from Portland, Oregon, Walter Waters, encouraged veterans to join a march on Washington, D.C. to lobby for passage of a bill authorizing the payouts. He convinced about 300 to “ride the rails” toward the nation’s capital. Thanks to media coverage, other veterans across the country also started jumping on freight trains and heading for Washington. On May 25, 1932, the first veterans arrived.  Waters and his men arrived on the 29th. Within a few weeks another 20,000 had joined them. 

Critics called these veterans “bonus seekers,” and those in their ranks the “Bonus Expeditionary Force” (BEF), a play on the “American Expeditionary Force,” as they had been called in France.

World War I veterans aboard a freight train headed to Washington, D.C. to join the Bonus Army

World War I veterans aboard a freight train headed to Washington, D.C. to join the Bonus Army

The men (many of whom brought their families) made camp in vacant lots and abandoned buildings around D.C. in areas the press called “Hoovervilles” after President Herbert Hoover, who was blamed for the economic crisis. The largest such “Hooverville,” by the Anacostia River, soon had a library, post office, a school for the children, and even a newspaper.

On June 4, the whole B.E.F. marched down the streets of Washington and spilled into the halls of Congress. On June 15, the House of Representatives passed the bonus bill by a vote of 211 to 176.

On the 17th, about 8,000 veterans gathered at the Capitol to lobby for passage of the bill in the Senate, but another 10,000 were stranded behind the Anacostia drawbridge, which police had raised to keep them out of the city. The bill was defeated. Many marchers left, but Waters and some 20,000 others declared they would not leave until they got their bonuses.

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Inevitably, however, conditions in the camps deteriorated, and President Hoover, Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur, FBI head J. Edgar Hoover, and Secretary of War Patrick J. Hurley feared that the Bonus Army would turn violent and trigger uprisings in Washington and elsewhere.

On July 28, on President Hoover’s orders, 100 policemen tried to evict the men, but the men resisted. The policemen turned to nightsticks, and the veterans fought back with bricks. It wasn’t long before the altercation involved guns. After skirmishes in the afternoon, one veteran lay dead, another mortally wounded, and three policemen had been injured.

Bonus Army marchers (left) confront the police.

Bonus Army marchers (left) confront the police.

At this point, Army Chief of Staff General MacArthur assumed personal command. Nearly 200 mounted cavalry with sabers drawn rode out of the Ellipse, followed by five tanks and about 300 helmeted infantrymen, armed with loaded rifles with fixed bayonets. Soldiers with gas masks released hundreds of tear gas grenades at the crowd, setting off dozens of fires in veterans’ shelters.

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By evening, the Army arrived at the Anacostia camp. General MacArthur gave the inhabitants twenty minutes to evacuate the women and children, and then led an attack on the camp with tear gas and fixed bayonets.  They drove off the veterans and set fire to the camp.

Over the next few days, newspapers and newsreels in movie theaters showed graphic images of violence against the World War I veterans and their families. 

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For each of the next four years, veterans returned to Washington, D.C., to push for a bonus. Many of the men were sent to work on road construction projects in the Florida keys. On September 2, 1935, several hundred of them were killed in a hurricane. The government attempted to suppress the news, but the writer Ernest Hemingway was aboard one of the first rescue boats, and he wrote of his outrage, helping eliminate any residual resistance to the bonus, which was finally authorized in 1936.

Sources include:

Authentic History

PBS American Experience

Wikipedia

Florida Historical Society

Captioned images from BeingButmen Blog

July 26, 1948 – President Truman Issues Executive Orders For Civil Rights

On this day in history, President Harry Truman issued two executive orders.  Executive Order 9980 instituted fair employment practices in the civilian agencies of the federal government:

All personnel actions taken by Federal appointing officers shall be based solely on merit and fitness; and such officers are authorized and directed to take appropriate steps to insure that in all such actions there shall be no discrimination because of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

Executive Order 9981 directed the armed forces to provide “equality of treatment and opportunity for all personnel without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin” and established a presidential committee to monitor compliance.

The online Truman library has a nice hyperlinked chronology of events surrounding the desegregation of the Armed Forces, which you can access here.

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July 19, 1996 – First Murder Conviction Based on Animal’s DNA

On this day in history, Douglas Leo Beamish was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with 18 years of parole ineligibility in the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island (Trial Division).

Beamish, the estranged husband of Shirley Duguay, was the primary suspect in Shirley’s disappearance. When the body was found, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) found a leather jacket nearby covered in Duguay’s blood. Although Beamish’s friends and family acknowledged that Beamish owned a similar jacket, none would positively identify it.

But in addition to the blood, investigators pulled two white hairs from the jacket. The hairs turned out to be not human but cat fur. Detectives recalled that Beamish’s parents owned a white cat named Snowball and obtained a blood sample. (Beamish was at that time living with his parents.) Police inspector Roger Savoie could not find a Canadian laboratory to perform DNA analysis of the cat hairs, so he called experts in the U.S. and eventually reached Dr. Stephen J. O’Brien, chief of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md., an expert on cats and their genes. He agreed to do the testing, analyzing the hairs in the jacket and Snowball’s blood. But even though they matched, Dr. O’Brien wondered if the cats on the island were so inbred that all of their DNA was essentially identical. He asked Detective Savoie to round up 20 cats in the neighborhood and send their blood too. To everyone’s relief (with the undoubted exception of Mr. Beamish), they found abundant genetic diversity among the cats.

Convicted murderer Douglas Beamish and his cat Snowball. Photo by Dr. Stephen O’Brien

Convicted murderer Douglas Beamish and his cat Snowball. Photo by Dr. Stephen O’Brien

The introduction of Snowball’s hair as evidence was the world’s first use of non-human DNA in a criminal trial. Douglas Beamish was charged with first-degree murder and found guilty of second-degree.

Beamish appealed his conviction in 1998 and 1999. Both appeals were rejected.

Since this groundbreaking case, several prosecutors in the United States have presented in court forensic DNA evidence derived from animal samples.